Center for Cannabis Policy, Research, and Outreach

The Center for Cannabis Policy, Research, and Outreach (CCPRO) at Washington State University (WSU) consists of more than 70 researchers across the WSU system. Four specific themes have been identified to establish WSU as a global leader in cannabis research, policy, and outreach:

  1. Improving health and well being. WSU faculty conduct translational science related to the impact of cannabis on health, ranging from animal studies of the impact of cannabis on brain development, the impact of THC and CBD on pain, the impact of cannabis on mental health and stress, and the prevention of problematic cannabis use.
  2. Public policy and safety. WSU faculty conduct research on roadside detection and work place safety and cannabis use, the impacts of de-criminalization on crime and the justice system, and federal and state cannabis policy.
  3. Economics. WSU faculty conduct research on issues relevant to the cannabis industry, such as industry taxation and banking, economic impact, and cannabis work place issues.
  4. Agricultural Research. WSU faculty conduct agricultural research on industrial hemp grown for CBD extract, textiles, food, and fiber in compliance with state and federal law. Key to product development and sales is a strong crop production and pest management practices optimized for industrial hemp grown in Washington state.

Donations will help support current work on the cannabis policy landscape, determining short and long term health effects of cannabis use, including addiction, impact on the opioid crisis, pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and other public health issues, plus public safety and criminal justice issues, and agricultural issues. Your donation today will help continue this important research.

Conditional Note: WSU currently does not accept money from marijuana related businesses that manufacture, distribute, or dispense marijuana (Controlled Substances Act-CSA, 21 U.S.C. § 801, et seq.), but private individuals and companies not subject to the CSA can donate. For more information please email us at

Donate to cannabis research.

Here is a sample of WSU researchers who take part in CCPRO activities or have been funded through WSU’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program or other sources:

To contact CCPRO, please e-mail us:

Contact CCPRO

David Gang
CCPRO Director
Institute of Biological Chemistry

Dr. Gang’s research focuses on how plants, like Cannabis sativa, produce important medicinally active compounds. To support those and other research efforts, he directs WSU’s TIMPL and LCME metabolomics/proteomics core facilities. He is also leading WSU’s contributions to national field trials for industrial hemp (for fiber, grain and cannabinoid/terpenoid production) and is developing partnerships with other research institution and Tribal communities for hemp research and economic development.

Tracy Klein
CCPRO Assistant Director
College of Nursing

Dr. Klein’s research focuses on the interface between public policy and prescribing practices as they relate to practitioner, patient, and institutional factors. Her interprofessional collaborations include research on health professional communication and knowledge regarding cannabis, interventions to enhance shared decision-making about cannabis, the impact of policy change on use of cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids, and development and evaluation of continuing education specific to cannabis and cannabis use disorder for health professionals. In 2023 Dr. Klein completed a post-doctoral master’s degree at the University of Maryland College of Pharmacy focusing on medical cannabis pharmacology and therapeutics.

Cornell Clayton
Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service

Dr. Clayton’s research focuses is on American political institutions and policy making, and Washington State politics.

Brian Clowers

Dr. Clowers’ research focuses on the development of trace detection of cannabinoids using mass spectrometry and ion mobility spectrometry. In addition to serving the needs of the fundamental cannabinoid research community, efforts are ongoing to realize a portable, sensitive instrument capable of assessing recent consumption marijuana. This latter research endeavor will fill a needed gap in law enforcement assessment protocols, workplace compliance, and rapid point-of-care diagnostics.

Carrie Cuttler

Dr. Cuttler’s research focuses on examining acute and chronic effects of cannabis on mental health (e.g., depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, PTSD), physical health (e.g., pain), stress, and cognition (e.g., memory, decision-making, executive functioning, creativity).

Kristen Delevich
Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience

Dr. Delevich studies how adolescent cannabis use influences the maturation of neural circuits underlying motivated behavior. She is also interested in how the interplay of sex, pubertal hormones, and cannabis use impacts brain development.

Amit Dhingra

Dr. Dhingra’s research focuses on the use of genomics, genetics, and breeding in food crops, and utilizing DNA-based knowledge during plant propagation to ensure ‘true to typeness’ of the plant material. The methods developed in his program are already being offered commercially and can be utilized by the cannabis industry to ensure end-user safety, and by the regulatory agencies for quality control.

Jessica Fales

Dr. Fales conducts research in the areas of pediatric pain. Her projects related to cannabis have focused on recreational use and its links to pain, physical activity, sleep, and quality of life in young people.

Randy Fortenbery
Economic Sciences

Dr. Fortenbery’s research related to cannabis has focused on the economic feasibility of industrial hemp production and processing, potential market size, and challenges in developing a stable hemp industry. He has published several studies on the potential markets for industrial hemp, consulted with potential processors and farmers, and been interviewed extensively on the risks and opportunities associated with hemp market development.

Rita Fuchs
Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience

Dr. Fuchs studies the neurobiological mechanisms of cocaine, heroin, and cannabis use disorders.  Her most recent research explores the role of endocannabinoids in drug-memory maintenance and drug relapse using animal models.

Maria Gartstein

Dr. Gartstein’s primary interest has to do with how cannabis use during pregnancy affects maternal-child health. Specifically, she is interested in the effects on child reactivity and self-regulation, and the mechanisms involved in the intergenerational transmission of risk.

Janessa Graves
College of Nursing

Dr. Graves conducts research on population health impacts of cannabis legalization and use, including unintentional exposures to children and youth and parental cannabis use and storage behaviors. 

Kanako Hayashi
Molecular Bioscience, Reproductive Biology

Dr. Hayashi studies the transgenerational effects of in utero cannabis exposure on male and female reproductive functions and mechanisms in germ cells.

Craig Hemmens
Criminal Justice and Criminology

Dr. Hemmens studies the effects of marijuana legalization on law enforcement and crime in Washington. This collaborative work with several WSU faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and numerous agency partners in the state and in Idaho, involves the use of focus groups, interviews and the analysis of state and federal data. He was also the PI on several grants from the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission to study nine years of traffic fatalities as they are affected by the presence of THC.

Angela Henricks

Individuals with mental illness often misuse cannabis, which has negative effects on subsequent mental and physical health, increasing rates of hospitalization and mortality. Work in my lab focuses on understanding the neurobiological underpinnings of substance misuse and co-occurring mental illness using use translationally relevant rodent models. Our ultimate goal is to contribute to the development of personalized, effective therapies for cannabis and other substance use disorders in clinical populations.

Zhihua Jiang
Animal Biology and Biomedicine

The Jiang laboratory is interested in genomic complexity of neuronal activities in response to cannabis exposure and development of efficient programs to combat the cannabis use disorders in humans.

Ben Ladd

Dr. Ladd’s research interests focus on improving prevention and early intervention techniques for promoting and motivating health behavior change. He is interested in understanding the risks and/or benefits of cannabis use. This includes refining the measurement of cannabis consumption and problems and investigating the role of cannabis in specific populations (e.g., chronic pain). Additionally, Dr. Ladd conducts process research with the goal of better understanding and identifying effective elements of therapeutic interventions, particularly Motivational Interviewing, in order to reduce the impact of substance use and problems.

Nick Lovrich
Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs and Criminal Justice and Criminology (affiliate researcher)

Dr. Lovrich has extensive experience with the political dynamics of marijuana legalization and assessing the impact of marijuana law liberalization on crime and law enforcement. He has been working for several years on addressing the problem of the rapid field documentation of cannabis exposure and associated impairment in driving, boating and workplace settings.

Renee Magnan

Dr. Magnan studies the perceptions of risks and benefits of cannabis use, accuracy of these perceptions, and associations with use and related problems, as well as event-level experiences and correlates with other behaviors and affective experiences.

David Makin
Criminal Justice and Criminology

Dr. Makin is studying the effects of marijuana legalization on law enforcement and crime in Washington. Specific to this research, he is working on several studies examining the relationship between legalization and police effectiveness, distribution of calls, mental health, and to what extent legalization has influenced police community relationship. Additionally, he and Dr. Willits are developing a process to improve the detection of impairment through analytical solutions.

Michael McDonell
College of Medicine

Dr. McDonell conducts research on the impact of cannabis on mental illness, especially on the mental health of youth experiencing psychosis. His other research focuses on testing treatments for co-occurring substance use disorders and severe mental illness. He also partners with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to test the new treatments for alcohol and drug problems.

Ryan McLaughlin
Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience

Researchers in the McLaughlin Lab use translational animal models to investigate the long-term effects of developmental cannabis exposure on cognitive, emotional, and neural endpoints. Additionally, we explore how endogenous cannabinoid signaling in the brain contributes to alterations in the neuroendocrine and behavioral response to stress.

Sterling McPherson
College of Medicine

The Analytics and PsychoPharmaoclogy Laboratory (APPL) conducts research on 1) co-use of cannabis and tobacco among adolescents, and 2) cannabis use impact on substance or alcohol use disorder treatment outcomes.

Courtney Meehan
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Courtney Meehan’s research is focused on cannabis use during lactation. She is leading an interdisciplinary team to assess cannabinoid concentrations in human milk and potential relationships to infant development. This research will provide critically needed data on the effects of cannabis use while breastfeeding for healthcare providers and mothers.

Michael Morgan

Dr. Morgan’s research focuses on the ability of cannabinoids to treat chronic pain conditions.

Jim Peters
Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience

Our work focuses on the effects of cannabis on vagal afferent signaling in the control of key autonomic reflexes that regulate the heart, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.

Kawkab Shishani
College of Nursing

Dr. Shishani’s research area is tobacco use and cessation with particular focus on waterpipe (hookah) tobacco smoking. Dr. Shishani is also interested in looking at the initiation and dual use of waterpipe tobacco smoking and marijuana.

Crystal Smith
Elson S Floyd College of Medicine

Dr. Smith’s research addresses substance use broadly, but is heavily focused on the areas of cannabis and opioids, particularly as they impact youth and families, pain, and relate to genetics and genomics.

John Snyder
Criminal Justice and Criminology

Dr. Snyder primarily studies the impacts of the legalization of marijuana on law enforcement after 30 years of being in the trenches of the war on drugs, where his approach resulted in working with both those criminally accused and representation of police officers in noncriminal matters.

Mary Stohr
Criminal Justice and Criminology

Dr. Stohr studies the effects of marijuana legalization on law enforcement and crime in Washington. This collaborative work with several WSU faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and numerous agency partners in the state and in Idaho, involves the use of focus groups, interviews and the analysis of state and federal data. She was also the PI on a few smaller grants from the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission to study nine years of traffic fatalities as they are affected by the presence of THC.

Elizabeth Weybright
Human Development; Extension Youth and Families Unit

Dr. Weybright broadly conducts research to understand and prevent adolescent risk behavior. Specific to cannabis, she has looked at patterns and correlates of use among youth of color (e.g., American Indian) and effectiveness of prevention programs in a legalized cannabis context.

Dale Willits
Criminal Justice and Criminology

Dr. Willits studies the effects of marijuana legalization on law enforcement and crime in Washington and examines the effects of marijuana on driving behavior/safety. In addition to examining the effects of legalization on crime and public safety, he is currently conducting work examining the effect of legalization on racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Jessica Willoughby
Murrow College of Communication

Dr. Jessica Willoughby conducts research that examines the ways in which media is associated with attitudes toward cannabis among adolescents and young adults. She also does work on campaigns, communication strategies, and interventions that use media for risk reduction efforts.

Marian Wilson
College of Nursing

Dr. Wilson’s research focuses on cannabis use among people prescribed opioids for chronic pain or opioid use disorder. Her team has published studies investigating the relationships between cannabis use frequency and distressing symptoms such as pain, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

Cannabis Research Highlights from WSU’s Student Researchers